What is your venue’s history?
The idea of Nature was born 10 years ago when Emma and Bryan met. We were talking about ecology, community, and the future. We want to build something to share with people and that would empower people. We created Nature as a platform for people to be supported by and also as a sandbox for people to be creative in. This translates to all forms of events and gatherings. We hired Ben Falk of Whole Systems Design first as our lead eco-designer, Ben and Cornelious Murphy, and his team worked with us over the whole journey through today to help us create something with the long term in mind and deep green efficiency. We also worked closely with some family and friends to get a core team established. The rest of our larger team coalesced around that. After a long difficult road of financing and construction, we opened focused on weddings and are entering our third season now. As we build out our original vision we expand our offering and services. This is mostly the resort side of things – accommodations, well-being services, activities, and events that we put on at Nature for the public (in contrast to the private events now). The full vision will take time to see and currently, we have plans for the next 20 years scheduled and ideas beyond that.
What do people love most about your venue?
People love the forest and glade, the location, the contemporary style, the feeling/experience on-site, and the deep bonds developed here. The forest is where the real magic happens, after all the commitments and vows are made, the after-party in the woods is something really special and profound. Bonds are made or deepened and this is what becomes the source of inspiration and support in the hard times of a relationship. That is what people are getting from the destination wedding experience. We are located in Leelanau which is amazing in and of itself, but 10m from glen arbor, sleeping bear dunes national forest and park, and Lake Michigan beaches is amazing even in the county. Close enough to Traverse City to have all the conveniences but far enough to have a Dark Sky Compliant facility with amazing views of the Milky Way and occasional Northern Lights. The style and feeling at Nature is a paradoxical mix of profound calm and strong celebration. It is balanced with the hygge Scandinavian style of the perfect white and light wood. The cinema-styled natural lighting is very intentional and creates amazing opportunities for images and memories. This combined with the thoughtful flow of large groups makes Nature never feel crowded even if you have 500 people on the property. People love the sense of thoughtfulness towards all these elements and much more.
What’s one of your favorite moments at one of your weddings?
One of our favorite moments was during the first large wedding we had here. That night we were walking around among the party and almost no one recognized that we were the owners. We heard all of our intentions manifesting in the experience of the guests. At one point we heard two people talking, they did not realize we could hear them. They said: “Do you feel that?” “Yeah there is a really good energy here” “It is crazy, the weekend is almost over and I have not looked at my phone since Thursday” “Wow, me either” “You don’t understand – that has never happened in my life” Hearing this made our heart sing, it was a true success. Without saying a word to them, they had connected with life and nature in a new way. That wedding party has returned annually for camping since then to renew the bonds made here and will be here again this season. They always visit the trees we planted for them.
What are your favorite design elements of your venue?
We love the contemporary and warm feeling and design we have. Everything is neutral enough to match any color scheme without our neutrality being boring. Couple that with the flows of spaces so that people can go indoors and outdoors in a smooth way.
How many people can the space hold?
Indoors 150 with dance floor, 170 with a smaller dance floor or moving tables, 220 standing. Outdoors up to 500 on the 40’x120’ tent pad on the beach and swimming pond overlooking our valley.
Is there a set schedule at your venue?
We focus on developing strong bonding experiences with friends and family in Nature. We do 3 days or 5-7 day events. People can camp, glamp, or stay in cabins – check-in is 4 pm, check out is 11 am. The main building “the Great Nest” can open early depending on your needs, but we are required by Leelanau laws to close the building at 11 pm. At which point people can then go to the After Party area for bonfires and/or campfires that hold 300 people cozy by the fire. There is no time limit there, but no large amplified sound outside of a small Bluetooth speaker or Silent Disco (which would not recommend any higher than we do). For 3 day events: Day 1 is gathering welcome party, Day 2 is the wedding ceremony and reception, Day 3 is brunch. For 5-7 day events: People gather on Sunday night on-site for the welcome party, day 1-5 there are activities on-site in the morning and evening at the Resort and often day trips/sightseeing around the area for the afternoon although we have trails and swimming pond and on-site activities as well, day 6 is the main event/wedding, and day 7 is brunch.
Am I able to bring in my vendors or do I have to choose from a list?
You may work with any licensed professional you like, but we do have a preferred list of vendors who have been tested hard and know how Nature works to a high level of excellence. Any wedding or event that has taken place at Nature has given us 5 stars (including weddings during pandemic regulations!). Preferred Vendors or any vendor working with us closely will start at a 5-star experience and push far into excellence.
What time are my vendors able to set up the day of the wedding?
As early as needed. They may come earlier in the week when availability allows. We will work with your vendors on a case-by-case custom attention level, coordinate them with all the other vendors and keep things working smoothly and efficiently between all other events (for Nature and the Vendors schedule.). The breakdown is the same thing, but everything must be clear (strike) by Sunday evening when necessary for 7-day events. Tents may stay longer when necessary. All this happens with Nature’s coordination and couples are not bothered with it.
Do you offer coordination and if so what does that entail?
We do not offer planning beyond vendor coordination. We are at the edge of requiring wedding planning now (although it is not yet absolute). Nature feels that a good wedding planner and planning is the best money you can spend on a budget. We go so far as to say that it is even more important than the venue. Would you prefer to host a party or be invited to one? That is the difference.
Can couples bring on their alcohol?
Yes although it must be served by a TIPS certified server or bartender. Eventually, we will have our liquor license and this may change. But any contract signed will be “grandfathered” into the current rules.
If I bring in my caterer is there a kitchen available for them to use?
No, our catering space is an assembly area to work with Food Trucks or built-out kitchens next to s special catering entrance designed by/for local 5-star caterers. This is generally how it’s done for our events. We are also authorized for multiple food trucks on-site and our cabins have room service available from 3 nearby restaurants (5 stars to pub food and pizza).
Do you have an inclement weather space for outdoor activities?
Our main building the “Great Nest” and outdoor tents on our tent pad or a small tent for the after-party are excellent inclement weather solutions. Generally, the weather is not more than short time frame weather events from May-September and October we have had only success with our adjustable schedules to accommodate for a morning shower (or afternoon or evening – usually it is one of the three and predictable to the minute). Again even the events that had unusual rain gave us 5 stars and had a fun happy experience.
How many hours are included in renting the space?
3 days (2 nights) or 5-7 days (4-6 nights). These times are flexible and agreed upon to best fit your custom wedding. Most of our 3-day weddings elect to show up early and stay with us in a core smaller group that grows larger until the “weekend” or 3 days start. Some wedding groups have the whole wedding party show up on the previous Sunday (to the following Sunday) and only use the Great Nest for the 3 days, yet take advantage of our resort space (80 acres) and all the local activities of Leelanau County and Traverse City.
Can we have multiple events ie; rehearsal dinner, welcome party, after wedding brunch, etc.?
Yes, we are designed for multiple events during your stay with us; we are a custom destination event wedding venue and resort. Generally, Rehearsals can briefly do a run-through on the night before the 3 days aka day 0, the Welcome Party is day 1, the wedding is day 2, and brunch is day 3 before parting ways. 5-7 day events extend to a mini-vacation by adding more events and activities at Nature and the area on the day leading up to the classic 3-day event (such as wineries/breweries/distilleries, beaches, foodie level restaurants, and food, parks, hikes, outdoor activities, movie nights, dance classes, etc., etc. – too much to list going on in The county of Michigan).
Are there getting ready areas?
Yes: the main lobby, well-being room, waterside outdoor area, and powder room (aka green room) are generally used by one group. The other group uses our two spa-level locker rooms in a non-binary way and also enjoys the front (north side) of the building and outdoors by the complementary glamping tent right next to that space.
Do you have any overnight accommodations onsite?
Yes at the moment we have 3 cabins completing and our two glamping tents. But we are building as fast as we can in our current pandemic reality. We are working our way up to 50 cabins. In the interim, our first target is 21 more cabins and 30 more tents. We will then continue and replace tents with cabins until we have 50 cabins. Due to the current building conditions of the pandemic, we are not yet able to guarantee the timing of completion, but we also have special arrangements with 3 hotels (within 10m in Glen Arbor) for “room blocks” as a backup (38 rooms).
What else do you want to share about your venue?
Each couple that gets married here will have a guild of trees (a symbiotic trio) planted into our tree nursery. in 5-7 more years this nursery will grow into a perennial food forest designed by our eco-design team. This forest once productive will provide food for local food kitchens and those who need help. This is one way that the group coming to Nature and the Nature team support the community that is supporting us in the events (local vendors). Nature supports the community of the couple by developing deep In Real Life connections between friends, family, and the couple. This is the inspiration for those people, your people, to help support you as a couple in the challenging times of living together. It has become very clear during the pandemic the invaluable price of support, love, and kindness. When Rev. Bryan (Co-Owner of Nature) thinks about what is the most important thing to provide to a couple for the investment of a wedding – that support by a community of your people and family is the most powerful and profound thing we can offer. That is what Nature was built for… the magic comes from the time in the forest, around the fire, and just resting in presence with the surrounding nature or gazing at the Milky Way. There is truly something profound and sacred added to the union of a couple and their guests in this process that was carefully enhanced by Nature. We hope that you come by and realize it yourself for an event (public or private) or just to stay a night with us.
For further information and details give us a call or email us for information and pictures including availability and pricing. Admin@naturemichigan.com 231.709.3838
You can also check out there website here.
Contact me for more information on getting married here!